This video is the 3rd part of my ill-fated 5 part review. Sadly, due to severe technical problems with the game, there will only be 2 more AOM videos after this.
Seoul, South Korea.
Good vibes. So good that it inspired me to look further into the actual city of Seoul and I discovered this gem of a video. A public relations film produced to show that Seoul is the City of Tomorrow.
Wew. Anyway, let’s get down to business.
People have been asking me how well this map holds up to Stilwater and that’s a bit of a tough one to answer. The gameplay goals of Stilwater and Seoul are different. There’s no avoiding the fact Agents of Mayhem is not a Saints Row game. You’re not going to be driving boats inside caves, barnstrom bridges, backflipping jet skis, parachuting out of helicopters, or any of that classic sandbox style stuff. This game is centered almost exclusively on 2 things: combat and agent abilities. The good news is that combat and the agent’s abilities are fun as hell, and the map works in the game’s favor here. So no, you’re not going to go clothes shopping in a mall, you’re not going to buy blunts inside a gas station, or explore the inside of an airport, but you will be exploring a very detailed city through platforming and air dashing.
Gameplay differences aside, there are actually positive parallels between Stilwater and Seoul. You know all those public art pieces and sculptures? This game’s got ’em. Beautiful city plazas, landscaping, and architecture. Beautifully designed map = heightened sense of everything. Being in this map idle makes me feel happy. It’s not a total mental bringdown like Steelport. Instead of rust, we got beryllonite. Fluorescent glow and all. I am absolutely pleased with the design of this map. I’m still kind of shocked how small the map actually is. Like no bullshitting, looking at the map screen, I’m still blown away how big this map can feel. Maybe it’s because a beautiful map = less strain on the mind, and therefore I’m not getting burned out as fast as I did with steelport. I dunno, I still need to find myself there, all I can say as of now is that this map is a work of art. Inspiring really. Mad respect to the map designers for what they gave us. Very grateful, big fan.
(update: idolninja has told me there is a patch coming out to fix this very issue. stick around and listen to me rant anyway!)
As much as I love the design, I still prefer Stilwater because not only did Stilwater already have all these things, it’s also got more interaction. Where this map fails is in the ‘lifeness’ factor. The poorly functioning spawning system is mostly to blame. There are many scripted events in the game’s campaign where you will see a large density of peds doing interesting things, but the open world spawning system is far too inconsistent. You’ll find a massive amount of peds in one area, while seeing maybe 2 or 3 at any given time elsewhere. If you want to truly cause mayhem and feel the destruction you’re causing in the world, you have to wait around for them to actually spawn in the area. Maybe walk around in a little circle in the street, and only then will this game generate its maximum amount of peds to display so you can actually get to blowing shit up and seeing the chaos unfold. Otherwise, playing with just two or three peds at a time is kind of boring. If you run down the sidewalk, killing everything in your path, you’ll see peds pop up 10 feet in front of you. You continue to kill them, and then once again you’ll be witnessing them spawn. The illusion of disbelief is shattered. Pre-patch, the peds were barely audible which made things far worse. Since the patch, I’ve noticed that things seemed more lively, but alas, the root of the problem remains with the spawning system.
Where’s everyone at!?
Because the spawning issue is more severe, I only briefly covered the ped’s actions. To further add to that in this article, they’re okay. Peds leaning over balconies, taking selfies, dancing, ect, ect. There are few good moments to be had in the open world, but the real good stuff like protests and group selfies only happen in the campaign. I remember seeing in one of the pre-release trailers a shot of peds doing yoga, and sadly I haven’t seen that since. I’m pretty sure it’s one of those campaign moments, and that kind of sucks. We needed more ped events not only in the campaign, but in free roam as well.
This game really only focuses on Legion battles, and while I think they did a great job on enemy design, for an open world game we really need more than that. I have fun fighting legion, but I have more fun fighting a gang in SR2 and then seeing the police get in on the action, and then see a group of peds get in on the action, watching the mayhem build up and unfold. Sadly, yes, there is more open world mayhem to witness in SR2 than AOM. I get that there’s a bit of a language barrier between our Agents and the Seoulites, and of course the whole “we’re the good guys” role that the agents have, but I’m sure they could have found some angle to make peds more fun to interact with. Hate machines are a thing, but going back to the spawning issue, I mostly only see 2 or 3 peds at a time trying to attack me, and the event isn’t very special. They basically gain Helltrooper abilities only they don’t have weapons to shoot at you.
Just a quick side-note. I’m writing this as I’m editing the video and oh my god I’ve been eating the shittiest food while editing this. So awful that I just have to say something. Like it’s on-sale dollar store off-brand ramen. So the shit cup noodle stuff you buy that’s normally 25 cents, on sale for 5 cents a package!!! Holy shit I bought like 40 of them and I have never been so upset in my life. The “Special Sauce” package that came with it is so fucking horrible it’s making me nauseated but the noodles are so fucking bland that I’m using it anyway because that’s the only thing that is giving these dried tapeworms any flavor. I’m like actually getting sick looking at it. I’m also just drinking a bottle of water. Good God! I think there’s ricin in the sauce, or maybe those little toxic ‘keep fresh’ packages they put in here split open somehow.
But anyway, back to the peds. I’m wondering in hindsight that even if the spawning system had an acceptable level of functionality, I probably would have put more critique towards ped design. They did a good job at capturing generic korean ped design, but for as much effort that they put towards the map when it comes to all the Seoul inspired designs, I wish they looked more into adding some weird aspects of Korean trends. Maybe a group of cosplayers? Or throw in some Korean esport players in some of those offices. Eh, I’m not going to blame volition too much here, if you google “Seoul people” you get basically what we have in the game, but I think they could have lampooned it a little better, gave it a bit more spice, you know?
I guess to wrap it all up, honestly, more peds, more cars, that’s the solution right there. Fighting legion, clearing your notoriety, all that is solid. Doing that anywhere in the map is fun, but I want to see innocent civilians get crushed while shit goes down. I actually want to see mayhem, and beyond my little battles with Legion, I don’t see it at all. Pedsplosion and Maximum Over-Go are basically useless because of it. I wouldn’t mind them removing cheats if Gremlin Tech could carry the weight of the lost feature, but the deep rooted problems with the openworld life make it all a waste. Ultimately we got fantastic map design, it’s what I wanted from Volition for years, but there was poor execution in bringing life out of it.